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Sleek as a coupe, but roomy like a sedan, the mid-size, four-door Stratus sedan was totally redesigned and re-engineered last year for better ride, handling, and performance. Its improved road manners now boost Stratus squarely into the same league as the most popular imports, including the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord.
But for sheer style, the Stratus struts more individual personality than any 10 Pacific Rim products put together.
For 2002, Dodge has reinforced the individualistic image of the Stratus with a sporty R/T sedan, powered by a 200-horsepower V6 and riding on a lowered suspension and 17-inch Vertex alloy wheels.
The Dodge Stratus sedan is easy to control with precise handling and a firm, smooth ride. With rack-and-pinion power steering, it turns in crisply and feels nimble on winding roads.
The V6 engine delivers spirited acceleration performance. It responds quickly for merging onto crowded freeway. Punch it at highway speeds, and it quickly overtakes slower cars for safe passing. With its aluminum block, dual overhead cams and multi-valve technology, the 2.7-liter V6 delivers 200 horsepower but still earns respectable fuel economy (EPA-rated for 20/28 mpg city/hwy). And it runs on regular-grade gasoline.
The electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission is quiet and efficient. Gear ratios have been calibrated to produce quick acceleration performance and responsive shifting in stop-and-go commuting.
Stratus SE with its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine musters less power than the V6, but feels energetic through all the gears. It's a noisy engine, however, and to maximize the power you'll need to rev it up.
Instinctively, the four-cylinder engine may sound like a bargain, but the primary difference is in the initial purchase price, which only differs by about $850. Fuel economy numbers differ by only 1 mile per gallon. Therefore, we recommend the V6 option.
This car feels very stable and is not easily upset by bumps, like dropping the right wheels off the pavement on an irregular shoulder. This and its smooth ride quality are benefits of its fully independent suspension with a double wishbones in front and a multi-link setup in the rear. Anti-roll bars come standard (front only on SE, front and rear on ES and R/T) to reduce body lean in corners. In addition to its stiffer springs, the ES has 16-inch rather than 15-inch wheels. The larger tires feel more stable when turning, and ultimately improve the car's agility.
Four-wheel-disc brakes with optional ABS provide sure stopping power.
Dodge Stratus comes as an attractive sedan with sleek styling that makes this four-door look more like a coupe. The sporty design is backed up by competent road manners and crisp acceleration performance from the available V6 engine.
This sportiness comes with practicality. Inside, the Stratus sedan is spacious and comfortable. Best of all, it's reasonably priced.